InJustinian?
Monday April 13th 2009, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Patristics

It’s rather remarkable that someone who wrote a book titled Christianity in the Land of the Pharaohs (Routledge) is just discovering The Secret History of Procopius — and discovering it online, quite by accident. Thus, Justinian’s villainy arrives as news to her. Still, I think she goes overboard in her uncritical swallowing all of Procopius’ claims (“the full truth,” as she puts it). The Secret History reads like the blog of an anonymous disgruntled employee. There are probably grains of truth here and there, but there are surely equal portions of embellishment, exaggeration, and salacious inventiveness.


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Obviously she’s not a science fiction fan….

Jim Baen, the late editor/founder of Baen Books, really really loved the story of Belisarius, you see. He in fact commissioned at least three retellings of Belisarius’ story: in the future, in alternate histories, on different planets. Mostly he made David Drake make up the outlines. (Very patient is David Drake, and very understanding of the foibles of friendly editors who give him money.) And the thing is, they all sold well.

My point is that Procopius, Procopius-analogs, and various arguments for and against the truth of Procopius’ version of history show up in all of these.

Beyond that, of course, Graves’ Count Belisarius was neither the beginning nor the end of the huge number of history and historical novels based on Justin, Theodora, Belisarius, and the whole merry Byzantine crew. And usually the extent of the authors’ belief in Procopius is a major factor in the story told. So it’s not exactly obscure….

Perhaps the whole thing reveals the excessive specialization of today’s history studies programs.

Comment by Maureen 04.14.09 @ 10:54 am



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